Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Daddy Boot Camp

I went to North Memorial today for Daddy Boot Camp. They recently renamed the class to the much more boring title of New Dads Class, but I’m going to insist on calling it Daddy Boot Camp. I guess they didn’t like the military overtone of boot camp? I dunno.

I got there promptly at 9:00 am and was a little surprised to only find two other expectant dads there. To be clear, this is a guys only class, no chicks allowed! We started at five after and it took until about 20 after for all the dads who were registered to finally arrive. Rule #1 to being a dad, learn to be on time and reliable!

We went around and made introductions. There was a truck driver, a computer guy (not me), golf course manager, machine builder, etc. Huge variety of backgrounds and professions. We also had to explain why we were there. One of the future dads said “so I can stop being afraid of being a father?” Get a group of anonymous guys like this together and your not going to get a lot of “touchy feely” talk, but he certainly hit a nerve with the whole room. It was nice to hear people actually fess up to being really excited, and also being totally freaked out about what is to come.

The instructor commented that when his wife and he were expecting he felt like he was always two months behind his wife. When she got pregnant she was engaged right away, but it took him until she showed. I can surely relate to that. Our baby is due in two weeks and Tammy is ready for it anyday. I feel like two more months would be just right.

The class was good. I learned how to swaddle a baby the right way, like the nurses do it. Down-up-down-up. I’ll show you sometime — I rock at it. While I’m now comfortable with the mechanics of changing a diaper, I still think it’s probably pretty gross. It was really funny how much happier all us guys got when we got to do things with the plastic baby dolls. Give us something to do and we are much better off than just sitting there.

They showed a video on Shaken Baby Syndrome that was horrific. It wasn’t violent or anything, didn’t show some baby getting shaken, it was just so bad. What a horrific thing to do to a little baby. Nauseated me just a bit.

In the last half-hour a “veteran” Dad came in with his daughter who was 6 months old and fielded questions. That was really good and the kid was just darn cute. He talked about the experience which was still fresh in his mind. I liked that.

PS – Quick update on the name front. Zaida is probably nosing ahead right now over Mazie. We’ll see what we think when she’s born. And, if somehow it’s a boy, we’ll just have to make something up!


  1. Mom, soon to be Grandma

    May 23, 2005 at 12:22 am

    Good job, seemed to be some great info for you to have! I’ve also been reflecting back on what a wonderful change you brought to my life and the immediate feelings for you when I saw your face! You will soon know the wonder of that blessing! and go Zaida, go! Not just cuz I like it, but many people back here in ND are commenting on how much they like it, even seems the same when I turn around quick to make sure they are saying something else behind my back.

  2. As the father of a 10 day old, I’m pleased to say that changing diapers isn’t nearly as gross as I expected it to be. (And we’re using cloth ones too, so it’s not even just change it and throw them)

  3. Bob, you have brought me serenity in a storm. Thank you so much.

    PS – Nice sneaky way to getting a link to Ska Kings on my web site. :-)

  4. Rick Cochrane

    May 25, 2005 at 8:54 am

    I’m with Bob – it’s not that bad (although there is a pretty steep "desensitization curve of necessity" that you hit when you’ve changed your 20th diaper in 3 days :)

    We also used cloth diapers (a mix actually) and found it very easy.

  5. I respectfully disagree with your rule of Dad must be on time. I am a Drool Sergeant for Boot Camp for New Dads. I tell the class at the beginning, “we are starting 10 minutes late. So this is your first free lesson in being a parent. You are going to be late once the baby comes. You will be packing a week’s worth of supplies for just a few hours worth of trip: diapers, bottles, wipes, gas drops, strollers, toys, extra clothes, etc. So get real used to being late.”

    I agree with the reliable comment you made. Your biggest function is the Protector. Remember that. The other thing to get in your brain is when you are in the hospital and it’s “go time”. Some Dads rise to the challenge and some panic. I have a full proof method for you to rise to the challenge. You are not the Coach, Assistant Coach, Special Teams Coach, you are not the star, the quarterback, your not on offense, defense, or special teams. You are the Waterboy. And I’m not talking about Adam Sandler, I get to play Waterboy. Make it your mantra, “I’m the Waterboy”. If Mom needs ice get her ice. If Mom needs a pillow, get her a pillow. If Mom is wondering where they are with that epidural, go find her nurse. You’re the Waterboy. If you make that your mission then you will get through everything for Mom. And you will be the best protector for her and your child.

    I also appreciate your disappointment in the name change. We refer to ours as Boot Camp for New Dads or Daddy Boot Camp equally. The only time we change the name is for Teen Fathers, because Boot Camp means something entirely different. But we call it Club Dad or Training Camp for New Dads.

    On the name front (if it’s a boy) Max or Zack. I really liked those names a lot. But we adopted our two little ones and they already had birth names. We didn’t think it was fair to change them.

    Happy Fathering!

  6. I’m sorry for posting again but I am bugging out on one thing. Tammy and I share the same birthday, April 26. So maybe I should predict that your child will be born on May 30th. That’s my son’s birthday.

  7. Hey Captain Mongo! Nice site. :-)

    Let me clarify on my comment regarding being on time. If you are late to something because you have to haul a bunch of stuff around, including a kid, that’s fine. My point is that if you aren’t dragging a kid around, say you are going to see their soccer game or school play — be on time.

    Future Waterboy, Jamie. :-)

  8. True. More importantly "be there". Personally I am really tired of the stereotypes that a successful business person must miss out on plays, soccer games, et. all. I know on occasions things are missed, but it should be rare not the norm.

    The one thing I appreciate about Boot Camp and the Dads that come through is that they are making a commitment to be a vital and important factor in the life of their child. The other thing I love about Boot Camp is that Dads like yourself give me a phsycological and emotional booster shot to be a better Dad and husband. I love hearing, reading, and observing Dads doing what we do. Thanks so much for this article. I am going to save it to my favorites.

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